Five minutes with Sonja Park
Written by Chris Anderson
Born in Seoul, educated in Vienna, and now living in Doha, Sonja Park has had an eventful life as a pianist. She encourages others to learn music through her initiative, Moving Young Artists (MYA).
How was 2015 for you?
Very challenging. There was a lot to juggle with my concerts, MYA, and also giving birth to my second child, Noah.
You became a Steinway Artist in 2014 – what was that like?
Steinway Artists are world-class pianists who voluntarily endorse Steinway & Sons, the famous piano company. To become a Steinway Artist, a pianist must not only meet certain performance and professional criteria; he or she must also own a Steinway piano. It has made me feel more responsible as a performing artist. There are around 1,500 Steinway Artists in the world.
Where do you play apart from Qatar?
I play in other cities in the Middle East, Europe, China, and so on. I recently signed with London-based agency Ellison & Strømsholm, which will hopefully take me further afield, to places like Carnegie Hall in New York.
Tell us about MYA and the work you are doing there.
MYA is an organisation that gives young, talented musicians in Qatar a platform to perform, so they can grow and learn to their fullest. We strive to give the community a musical vision, supporting local talent. The last MYA season saw seven successful concerts, and we showcased a number of gifted children playing a range of instruments. We are looking to expand and bring people together from all corners of Qatar through music.
So 2016 will be busy for you?
I have lots of plans. MYA will be collaborating with Qatari artist and producer Dana Al Fardan, although I can’t reveal how just yet, and my ‘Close Up’ concert series will be moving to a different five-star hotel, which I will announce very soon. Then I have my ongoing collaboration with the Katara Cultural Village, so expect more concerts there, as well as many abroad.
When you aren’t performing, how do you relax?
I like to read, or spend time with the many friends I have made in Qatar, try out new restaurants, and maybe go to the Museum of Islamic Art.
You also have a daughter, Mia. Is she interested in music?
Yes, Mia is eight now, and considering our family history, with my mother a director of a music school in Seoul for 30 years, and my sister, a professional violin and viola player living in NYC, I suppose music is in her blood. But I would love her to become whatever her heart desires.